Children are spending more time online — and at younger ages. The pace of technology means kids today face dangers, like cyberbullying and sextortion, that weren't around when their parents were growing up. As a result, parents might feel that they're not able to help their kids navigate the Internet.
While it might be tempting to restrict your child's access to the Internet, encouraging safe online behaviour and open communication are more effective.
The RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre has this advice for how parents can help keep their children and teens safe while using the Internet:
- Set expectations early that you'll be monitoring the use of personal devices, like smartphones and tablets.
- Get involved. If your kids are into online games, sign up and start playing. If they're on social media, create a profile and connect. This is the best way to learn about the benefits, drawbacks and security features of these websites and apps.
- Role-playing can help parents and their kids talk about tough and uncomfortable topics. Ask questions like:
- "What would you do if this happened to a friend?"
- "What could happen if your friend didn't tell anyone?"
- Sign up for notifications about concerning technology trends and new resources designed to protect children.
- Talk about the potential impact of sharing sexually explicit images online:
- They're permanent and can't be easily removed from the Internet.
- They could be used against you for sextortion purposes.
- They could be found when you apply for university or a job.
- Make sure your child or teen knows what resources they can go to for help anonymously, like Kids Help Phone and Cybertip.ca, if they're not comfortable talking to a parent or guardian.